KC romps home 34th title, Hydel snatches first on dramatic last day at Champs 2023

April 2, 2023  -Kingston College (KC) streaked away to comfortably win their 34th Mortimer Geddes Trophy, but it went down to the last girls’ race of the 2023 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships for Hydel High School to narrowly secure its first-ever title.

Jamaica College’s Class Two high jump winner poses with senior track star Briana Williams after the medals presentation on Saturday. James cleared the bar at 1.95m to land the gold medal.

At the end of the 42 events scored, KC widened the lead to 67 points to finish on 366, with Jamaica College (JC) ending on 299, followed by Calabar High School on 207, St Jago High School on 118.5, and St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) rounding out the top five on 116 points.

Hydel High School’s team captain Oneika McAnnuff (left) accepts the 2023 ISSA/GraceKennedy Girls’ Championships trophy from Grace Kennedy Limited CEO Don Wehby during the presentation ceremony inside Kingston’s National Stadium on Saturday night. Hydel’s team members join in the celebration behind.

On the girls’ side after 46 events scored, Hydel High School who first entered Champs in 2010 ended with 279 points, followed by dethroned champions Edwin Allen High School on 277, followed by Holmwood Technical High School with 202, St Jago High School on 178 and St Catherine High School completing the top five on 116 points.

The five-day championships were held inside Kingston’s National Stadium and KC’s head coach Leaford Grant had no doubt his team would have walked away with the main prize despite the many predictions which claimed a close title fight.

“Well, I don’t know about it being close, what we have seen is that it was not close. I don’t understand all these predictions so far,” noted Grant.

He added: “We calculated a certain amount of points and never thought that it would have been a two-point [result], I don’t know where they got that from.”

Grant said the aim was to score over 350 points and “we knew any other team covered more than that we suspect that we would just have said they won the championships”.

The head coach added that this year’s win was “a more challenging one for us as we had to make some crucial decisions at certain times of the track season. Gibson Relays was one of them and we had to pull some teams and managed our boys properly going through the season, so we had some quality but we never had a lot of quantity in terms of the boys that we had this year so we had to manage them properly at these championships”.

For Hydel’s head coach Corey Bennett, who has been with the team since it started participating in the competition in 2010, it was all the work of the Almighty.

“I am really lost for words, God is good and he has been with us all along and even though we never believed we could have, things just kind of went our way and I asked the girls to just dig a little deeper, perform a little better,” said the man who this season also assumed responsibility for the Calabar High School track program.

“We got some great performances that you would have seen from some of our athletes. We started in 2010 and now 2023, 13 years later, yeah, God is good.”

Hydel received a gift entering the last race, the 4x400m relays, after

Edwin Allen who had romped home to victory in the Sprint Medley Relays, was disqualified, thus losing out on 12 massive points.

An Edwin Allen athlete had infringed on the inside lane on the curve and thus ran afoul of the rules, hence the disqualification.

This scenario left Hydel four points ahead, instead of eight points behind, and Bennett was quick to pounce and ensure that his charges did not throw away the gift.

“You don’t need to push for the win, but don’t come less than third. We did our math so don’t come less than third because where it was at sometimes when you try to push for the ultimate sometimes you lose all, so it was just some safe runs and our captain [Oneika McAnnuff] was supposed to lead that charge,” Bennett explained.

“She has been such a wonderful young lady from first form she came to us and we just asked them to be safe based on how the championships have been going, we got disqualified from two races, two relays in the week, this is just God’s work.”

The head coach also dedicated the historic win to his mother and the school’s founder.

“Hyacinth Bennett, our founder, she’s always wanted this and she’s unable to be with us physically here, she’s not as well as she would like to be, this one is for Hyacinth Bennett, I really just want to dedicate this one to her.”

In the final girls’ event, Edwin Allen won comfortably but Hydel did what was necessary by finishing second with McAnnuff running a brilliant leg to get her school into a comfort zone from well off the pace.

There was one record on the day and it went to Britannia Johnson of Camperdown High School who heaved the shot put to a new record 15.33m in Class One. She broke the previous record of 14.93m set by Fiona Richards of Edwin Allen High School back in 2018.

JC won the 4x400m relays Open in 3:09.31 minutes ahead of Edwin Allen and KC, but KC won the Sprint Medley Open in 3:26.98 minutes ahead of JC and Titchfield High.

The Class Three 4x100m relays was won by St Jago, Class Two by Calabar and Class One by KC in 40.01 seconds.

Demario Prince of St Jago won the Class One 110m hurdles in 13.42 seconds ahead of teammate Andre Harris in 13.79 seconds and JC’s Daniel Beckford in 13.83 seconds.

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